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Honouring our 2SLGBTQ+ relatives on International Transphobia, Homophobia, and Biphobia Awareness Day

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Territory

The Our Children Our Way Society (OCOW) celebrates our two-spirit, trans, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and queer + (2STLGBQ+) relatives on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. May 17 is a day to hold space for our 2STLGBQ+ relatives and to reaffirm their place within our communities.

The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia commemorates the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness on May 17, 1990. Marking the day draws awareness to the ongoing discrimination and violence experienced by 2STLGBQ+ people throughout the world.

Indigenous communities have held sacred and honoured Two-Spirited people and held them in high regard. They understood that their Two-Spirited relatives held unique perspectives balanced between the feminine and masculine, and they were often designated into leadership roles within a tribe. In some cases, these teachings have become buried under colonial and Christian beliefs regarding gender and sexuality norms. But many Indigenous communities have reaffirmed their high regard for their Two-Spirited relatives and many others never relinquished it.

The term “Two Spirit” is a new term coined in 1997 by LGBTQ+ leaders at the third annual Intertribal Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference. Two-Spirit is an inclusive way for Indigenous folks to self-identify outside of gender norms, which may or may not include sexual orientation.

In a recently released report, The Right to Thrive, the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) highlighted the alarming mental health outcomes that many 2STLGBQ+ youth experience, including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and self-harm. The report also noted that many 2STLGBQ+ youth struggle to find a sense of belonging and are faced with inadequate mental health services.

Our 2STLGBQ+ youth need our love and support to foster a sense of belonging, security, and wellness. The Our Children Our Way Society raises our hands up to the families, agencies, social workers, youth workers, and communities who work to provide inclusive spaces and appropriate care and support for our 2STLGBQ+ youth. Your work and way of being does not go unnoticed and has a ripple effect in your communities.

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For further comment, please contact: Mary Teegee, Chair, Our Children Our Way Society, Phone: 250-612-8710

Image from Wikimedia Commons (with the OCOW Logo)